KZN Human Settlements marked by knee-jerk responses to serious housing issues

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on COGTA

Housing has become a highly emotive issue in KwaZulu-Natal with numerous violent protests by communities, particularly in eThekwini which has the largest backlog in informal settlements.

The DA believes that this backlog – reported as 239 436 is inaccurate.  While the figure makes up some 78.2 % of KwaZulu-Natal’s backlog, we question the accuracy of these figures in the absence of an accurate data base, a waiting list and municipal data on informal settlements.

We would like the MEC to tell us how these figures were arrived at.  We also want to know why eThekwini has not been prioritised for housing delivery given the failure of the municipality to deliver the 16 000 housing units it achieved five years ago.

Last year the Municipality delivered some 3 700 Housing Units and yet they are accredited. Something is wrong and the DA will be watching to see whether the 11 000 houses promised during this financial year are delivered.

Housing should never be used for election purposes and vote catching. This has proven to be disastrous. Yet we have seen precisely this in eThekwini’s Kennedy Road, Cato Crest, and even in Shallcross, where promises were not kept resulting in communities taking to the street in violent protest.

The DA would like to see the MEC to go to Cato Crest and Kennedy Road and spell out to these residents when they will receive homes.  We believe that these two communities are being sidelined. They were promised housing at Cornubia yet nothing has happened.

We also urge the MEC to address the eradication of shacks in eThekwini and Msunduzi, which currently make up 83% of the backlog.  This is where the money needs to be spent.

The ANC Government has failed when it comes to housing delivery.   This has prompted the new approach of providing electricity as an interim service to informal settlements. The ANC has also admitted that informal settlements are here to stay.

What we have seen in some rural areas is an RDP house built within a homestead, which already has decent housing. I have seen this in Uthungulu, and I question the rationale for this.  It is the shacks in Kennedy Road that the ANC should be prioritizing.

MEC – with the current rate of delivery in eThekwini, with its 408 000 households, it would take more than 40 years to eradicate the current backlog, let alone deal with the increasing population numbers and demand.

The DA agrees that with the increase in the subsidy quantum the number of houses built will reduce.  But what is the alternate so that housing delivery can be increased?  We believe that those who have the ability to pay must make a contribution.

The MEC seems quite pleased with housing delivery levels in this province.  Perhaps he should look at Gauteng, where, with its budget of R4 billion, the province has delivered 22 365 homes.  KZN’s budget of R2.9 billion has delivered 25 940 Units and the Western Cape with a budget of R1.7 billion has delivered 11 852 units.

It is quite clear that government is squeezing the Western Cape – just as it did with KZN when the IFP governed.

Perhaps the MEC should tell us what would have happened if the DA-led Western Cape had received an additional R1.2 Billion.   We also note that salaries are being paid from Opscap, leaving less funding for actual housing delivery.

There are a number of projects which remain a concern to the DA in KwaZulu-Natal.  They include Woodglaze flats, title deeds at the EEDBS at Osizweni, the Vulendlela housing project and electricity for Welbedacht.

These are developments that need urgent attention.

The DA regards the department’s response to the real issues plaguing housing delivery in KZN as little more than knee-jerk reactions.